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City sees plans for apartment complex

An Ohio developer wants to build 360 upscale apartments east of Sea Forest Drive.

TBO Inc., a for-profit apartment developer based in Cincinnati, proposes to build the apartments on 20 acres outside New Port Richey's city limits and south of Cross Bayou Boulevard.

National Constructors of Miami is the project manager.

The apartment complex would have 12 buildings, two to three stories high. Each building would have 30 apartments with one to three bedrooms.

The New Port Richey City Council on Tuesday night preliminarily approved a request by property owner Jim Walker and the developer to annex the parcel.

"Aside from the city's services, one of the biggest factors was not paying (county) transportation impact fees," said Gerald Figurski, an attorney representing the developer. "We believe this is mutually beneficial to the city and to us."

Unlike county government, the city does not charge transportation impact fees. TBO would have had to pay more than $400,000 in impact fees if the property remained in the county, said Henry Trimm, a Miami architect working on the project.

Trimm said he did not know the project's cost or the proposed rents. He referred calls to a representative of National Constructors who could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

City Council members welcomed the development as a needed boost to the city's tax rolls.

"Our city and our tax base is something that we need to protect," New Port Richey Mayor Peter Altman said. "I think the opportunity to get this revenue stream is worthwhile."

"We've talked about expanding the city for a number of years and opportunities are few and far between," said City Council member Frank Parker. "This is a move in the right direction for us."

The decision came despite concerns from some council members and Gulf Harbors residents about whether Lindrick Service Corp. would be able to serve the new apartment complex.

The 20-acre parcel is within Lindrick's service area. The utility is under pressure from state environmental regulators to fix problems at its wastewater treatment plant.

The city has shown a keen interest in buying Lindrick's system, but Lindrick president Joseph Borda has said the utility is negotiating with another buyer, which he has declined to name.

The city has agreed to negotiate a bulk wastewater rate agreement with Lindrick, providing the utility can ensure that its sewage effluent is not contaminated with saltwater that would damage the city's plant and equipment.

Under the annexation agreement, the city will require TBO and National Constructors to indemnify the city from any lawsuits that might arise should Lindrick fail to provide services for the project.

Lindrick also will provide water and sewer services for a nine-story building being built off Sea Forest Drive. The Gulf Landing homeowners' association has filed suit to stop construction, saying a misguided decision by the county attorney deprived the group of its right to oppose the project.

Borda could not be reached for comment Wednesday.